Pet supplements are plentiful as pet parents increasingly seek preventive care and solutions for a variety of health symptoms and issues. Pets with allergies, anxiety, digestive issues, arthritis and a host of other issues are being given supplements to improve their quality of life.

Supplement purchases are higher for dog owners than cat owners, and a large part of the category is focused on joint health and reducing inflammation. There are supplements to improve brain (cognitive) health, immunity, skin and coat issues. Supplements are available to help dogs and cats who are anxious or stressed out. Bone broths and nutritional supplements enhance pet diets that fall short of complete and balanced nutrition.

Supplements come in the form of pills, chews, oils, liquids and sprays.

The interest in natural remedies has pet parents reading labels and looking for recognizable ingredients. They educate themselves about what will help their pets thrive. They focus on safety and effectiveness and how supplements are manufactured.

Simple labels and packaging may aid pet parents to understand what they are purchasing. The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) provides labeling guidelines, and U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine and state governments can regulate animal supplements (but mainly for adverse events rather than up-front approval).

Pet supplement innovation is following the human supplement category with the use of these ingredients:

  • Probiotics for digestive health and immunity
  • Glucosamine, chondroitin and collagen for joints
  • L-Theanine, an amino acid from green tea, for anxiety and stress
  • Essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils from fish (salmon, green lipped mussels, for example) for cardiovascular, neurological, skin, nail and coat health
  • Vitamins and Minerals for all stages of a pet’s life

The Biggest Trend: Hemp and CBD Supplements

Buzz continues about CBD and its healing capabilities. NASC takes the stand that supplements containing hemp should only be sold if they are made from the more effective full-spectrum hemp oil (from entire hemp plant) and not from CBD concentrates, isolates or synthetics. (CBD isolate may use toxic chemicals to extract the CBD molecule.) NASC also says THC content from hemp should be 0.3% or less in pet supplements. CBD may not be an ingredient in pet foods, with the FDA recently saying that CBD cannot be distributed “as, or in” dietary supplements.

Some CBD supplement manufacturers offer transparency by having third-party labs test product batches to report on ingredients, potency, toxicity and bio-contaminants. For CBD products, it’s important to ask questions about the ingredients, their source and whether they are organic. Research the manufacturer to determine the level of transparency and the production and quality control processes.

Most importantly, pet parents should discuss their pets’ nutritional needs, age, health concerns and physical condition with their veterinarians and then assess the need for supplements and the dosage levels. Never give human supplements to pets, and watch for unwanted side effects (vomiting, lethargy, reduced appetite, etc.) when starting a new supplement.

For pet retailers, education is the key. Know the quality brands and study the ingredients, dosage information, potential side effects and manufacturer information. Be a resource to your customers as they try to make the best decisions for their pets.